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  1. #1
    heart on fire
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    Default Should USA President Control the Domestic Internet?

    Should Obama Control the Internet? | Mother Jones

    A new bill would give the President emergency authority to halt web traffic and access private data.

    óBy Steve Aquino

    Thu April 2, 2009 12:33 PM PST

    Should President Obama have the power to shut down domestic Internet traffic during a state of emergency?

    Senators John Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) think so. On Wednesday they introduced a bill to establish the Office of the National Cybersecurity Advisoróan arm of the executive branch that would have vast power to monitor and control Internet traffic to protect against threats to critical cyber infrastructure. (more at link)

  2. #2
    DoubleplusUngoodNonperson
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    Even if this weren't disgusting to civil liberties in free speach, I'm not sure there's any pragmatic way TO control the internet that much....

    The internet isn't this thing with some "on or off" switch to it, it's like over 1 billion computers in North America all talking to each other individually. How do you shut down that many combinations? the permutations are staggering if you did it directly, so this would require the cooperation of ISP companies to get it done (not to mention univerisites and anyone with an indepedantly owned t1 line)

    In short: This is problematic.

    I could envision them enacting beurocratic measures that make internet traffick more difficult to provide (because all companies would have to cooperate on this), especially for smaller start up ISP companies.

  3. #3
    Senior Member millerm277's Avatar
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    Agreed with nozflubber. Secondly, how exactly would you figure out what is important and what isn't? I strongly doubt that no one in the government/military needs any of the domestic internet to do their jobs. For starters, you could figure that most military contractors/any company that supports anything that's used in the military needs to still be online. So, you'd need a constantly changing list of thousands upon thousands of companies and computers that need internet access. I could elaborate, but I think the point has been made.

    In short: Impossible. Giving the pentagon/military the ability to get their traffic placed at the highest priority during times of emergency is a much more intelligent idea. Having some sort of setup with the ISPs to quickly take down any machine that is posing a security threat is a good idea as well.
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  4. #4
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    Absolutely not.
    Who wants to try a bottle of merc's "Extroversion Olive Oil?"

  5. #5
    Feline Member kelric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by heart View Post
    A new bill would give the President emergency authority to halt web traffic and access private data.
    ...
    Should President Obama have the power to shut down domestic Internet traffic during a state of emergency?
    I'm with Merc on this one - absolutely not. Aside from the fact that it's a clear breach of privacy, from a strict legal perspective doesn't the 4th amendment basically state flat-out that this isn't acceptable? Don't get me wrong - the 4th amendment hasn't stopped certain governmental offices from doing things like this before. But if this article's correct, the president can basically give himself the ability, for any reason he deems sufficient, to stop the flow of information and gain access to any information. "National security" is a meaningless crutch to mean "whenever he feels like it" - after all - there's nothing in the bill about requirements to state what he's looking for or why, is there?

    I think this is just another mind-boggling "but it's on a computer, so it's different" example. I mean - if someone were to draft a law stating that the president, on his word alone, could cancel any TV broadcast, newspaper, magazine or mailed parcel, and could storm into any home, office, or business and confiscate any and every bill, receipt, contract, and general document in every file cabinet and desk in America, without oversight, there'd be an uproar. Data's data, and communication avenues are communication avenues - just because the medium is pretty new and the mechanism isn't as easily understandable as delivering a piece of paper doesn't make it fundamentally different when it comes to moral and legal obligations. If anything, it's *worse* to do such things online, as often there's no way for the victim to even know such a thing is happening. And if you don't know, how are you to protest and/or prosecute?

    Chalk this one up as "naked power grab". Don't get me wrong - I voted for Obama, was happy to do so (given the alternatives), and would again. But this is something I would have expected the prior administration to do (and likely, they did, without bothering to try to make it legal).

    Time for the old standby (with regard to the whole "national security" blanket-excuse):
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin
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  6. #6
    Te > Fi > Ni Shaula's Avatar
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    The only thing this bill would do is to prevent the First Amendment. By gaining control of the internet the government will be gain control of another form of mass media. Think about it, conventional media is dying. People now spend more time online than watching TV or listening to the radio.

    Also who is to dictate what constitutes as an emergency? Who is to dictate how long that emergency will last?

    Quote Originally Posted by nozflubber View Post
    Even if this weren't disgusting to civil liberties in free speach, I'm not sure there's any pragmatic way TO control the internet that much....

    The internet isn't this thing with some "on or off" switch to it, it's like over 1 billion computers in North America all talking to each other individually. How do you shut down that many combinations? the permutations are staggering if you did it directly, so this would require the cooperation of ISP companies to get it done (not to mention univerisites and anyone with an indepedantly owned t1 line)

    In short: This is problematic.

    I could envision them enacting beurocratic measures that make internet traffick more difficult to provide (because all companies would have to cooperate on this), especially for smaller start up ISP companies.
    If need be, just send in the National Security Agency and the ISP companies will fold to their knees. It didn't seem practical to ground all planes for a week after 9/11, but they did it. If China currently has internet blocks, why not the US?
    Is not to be held accuntable for peeling errors.

  7. #7
    DoubleplusUngoodNonperson
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    Secondly, how exactly would you figure out what is important and what isn't?
    Yeah that's the best point of all - they would actualyl have to be able to monitor every single signal gonig through the net in order to analyze it - for fuck's sake, they can only check like 15 % (or less, i dont knwo for sure) of the people that cross the boarder from mexico, imagine what small % of the total internet traffic the feds would be able to logistically monitor!!

    and hmmmm speaking of "power grabs" - related inquiry to this - obama: ESTJ letting power get to his head? not derailing here, his temperament might be important when understanind this story!

  8. #8

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    I also say absolutely not.

    Though, I think the use of the 1st ammendment is tricky in how it protects us.

    We're not really garaunteed the right to privacy in the 1st ammendment (nor any ammendment). If they restart the traffic after it stopped (this is a very sci-fi is situation anyway), then they would still have halted conversations that were going on in terms of IM, VoIP, message boards, etc.--which does seem to fit as a violation of the first ammendment. I personally would loose my land-line because VoIP is all I have. I also went to school online, as do many others, and can only do my work by logging into servers in Oregon--also a common situation. A lot of the power and lighting of big corporations are controlled through the internet. Shutting down the internet is not too far away from shutting down the power-grid.

    The thing that troubles me is that they could do it in sections, and we could never even know about it. In fact, many service providers have been caught doing similar things on their own--Comcast searching for and shutting down torrent traffic as an example.

    Also, I think this is a proposal of two congressmen (one Democrat, one Republican), not something initiated by the Obama administration. Hopefully, it will be shot down, long before it gets to Obama's desk.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
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  9. #9
    Per Ardua Metamorphosis's Avatar
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    What I want to know is under what circumstances would something like this be necessary? I'm having trouble thinking of any legitimate use of this power.
    "You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit."

    Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office
    than to serve and obey them. - David Hume

  10. #10
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    Interesting how people these days are most protective of their internet rights and privacy, not really caring about infringement in any other areas. Intriguing phenomena...

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